When is back pain eligible for disability benefits?

Living with back pain makes even everyday activities nearly impossible. Treatment for a back or spinal condition is prohibitively expensive for many people. Fortunately, there is help available for anyone who has been living with pain for an extended period, and that help is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The SSDI program provides benefits to workers when they have suffered a debilitating condition for a long time. Applying for benefits is complicated and processing takes several weeks. Upon acceptance, however, applicants will receive much needed assistance.

When back conditions are considered for SSDI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) processes all SSDI applications and evaluates them against their own internal list of qualifying conditions. Qualifying to receive SSDI for back pain is challenging because there is no listing for simply "back pain"; applicants will need an accurate diagnosis such as nerve root compression.

While not a complete list of applicable conditions, these are some of the most common and most serious conditions to meet the SSDI program's criteria:

  • Arachnoiditis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Herniated, rupture or slipped discs
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Nerve root compression
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal stenosis

Keep in mind that even if a condition is not specifically listed in the criteria, certain symptoms - such as being unable to walk independently - may still make it eligible for benefits.

You must have worked to receive benefits

In addition to having a condition which qualifies for SSDI, you also must have spent time working in a job covered by Social Security. As you work, you will automatically earn Social Security work credits based on your wages. These credits are the building blocks to getting you benefits.

The numbers change annually, but in 2019 you will receive one Social Security work credit for every $1,360 you earn, up to a maximum of 4 credits. You will need different numbers of credits to be eligible for SSDI based on how old you are and how recently you worked. In general, the older you are when applying the more credits you will need.

Receiving SSDI is a long road filled with speed bumps, but it can make all the difference for the people who need it. If the extra benefits would be a boon for you and your loved ones, look into applying. It costs nothing and could mean life without pain.

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